BY MENCKEN'S GHOST | JUNE 9, 2010
In 1922, when I was still in my corporal form and a popular journalist, I wrote: “The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.”
Those words were written prior to the American people electing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and saluting him as he imported a Bismarckian welfare state to the United States from Germany. Americans still revere Otto, er, Franklin, although the German welfare state has proven to be a bigger threat to the survivability of the nation than the Nazi threat. The economic might of American capitalism ultimately beat the Third Reich’s socialism, but, ironically, a German-style welfare state is now bringing American capitalism to its knees, thus proving my maxim that most people want security in this world, not liberty.
Of course, those who give up liberty for security end up with neither.
Few Americans know this, but 1922 was the year in which the U.S. recovered from the Depression of 1920-21 and began the Roaring Twenties. Until FDR came along, that’s how recessions used to be: short-lived. But because of FDR’s Keynesian economics and regulatory onslaught against capitalism, the U.S. stayed in the economic doldrums for nearly 20 years after FDR first took office. Yet he remains a hero in the vacuum of most American minds.
As I also wrote in 1922, “The chief business of the nation, as a nation, is the setting up of heroes, mainly bogus.”
Speaking of bogus, Americans now have a president who is emulating Roosevelt but seems oblivious to the fact that the world has changed markedly since FDR’s time. The U.S. is facing economic competition that it did not face back then; it is a debtor nation instead of a creditor nation, with debts and unfunded liabilities totaling 714 percent of GDP; and it has a culture of entitlement, dependency, avarice, and gluttony instead of a Protestant work ethic, rugged individualism, and Calvinist frugality.
The good news is that Puritanism has waned since the nation’s founding. I defined Puritanism in 1920 as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
Barack Obama must be a Puritan, given that he doesn’t want people to pursue happiness. Instead, he wants to save Americans from global warming, capitalism, drug companies, doctors, Wall Street, SUVs, fast food, saturated fat, and Rush Limbaugh. As I warned in 1956, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”
Union thugs are the muscle behind the president’s false-face and toothy grin. Again, as I wrote in 1922, “Unionism seldom, if ever, uses such power as it has to insure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguarding bad work.”
In my days, industrial unions were dominant. Today, public-sector unions are dominant. Letting public-sector workers unionize is like giving sedatives to sloths and then being surprised when the sloths become more slothful.
Americans have more schooling than ever but are more ignorant than ever about the moral and philosophical foundations of capitalism and their constitutional republic. This paradox can be explained by two facts: One, government K-12 schools are dominated by unionized teachers, who have a natural bias in favor of unionism and statism. Two, colleges have been flooded with government money, thus causing the privileged professoriate to make a hard left turn in pursuit of the money while pretending that they disdain the bourgeois pursuit of money.
I didn’t have a college degree, but almost all of today’s journalists have one. That probably explains why I wasn’t a government shill but most of today’s journalists are. It may also explain why I was an independent thinker but most of today’s journalists have a herd mentality. As I said, Americans have more schooling than ever but are more ignorant than ever.
The good news is that Americans have come out of their decades-long coma and are shocked to find that the nation’s debt and unfunded liabilities are so big that they cannot be paid off. Accordingly, they want to throw the rascals out of Congress. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that changing politicians without stopping the power of the Federal Reserve to issue debt, print fiat money, and maintain its banking cartel won’t save the country from insolvency and won’t keep citizens from penury and serfdom. Unless the dollar is tied to a commodity, it will be tied to nothing more than the self-dealing of politicians and their enablers in the banking cartel. As I wrote in 1924, “If experience teaches us anything at all, it teaches us this: that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
In closing, let me say that I regret calling Americans a timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers. Given what’s happened over the last 88 years, I was too kind.